White, Red and Blue

Posted on: November 5, 2012
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By Virginie Bleau
“Ready, set, go”, I hear the sharp retort. Time had been standing still and now everything is moving in a flash. The cheering suddenly vanishes and all sounds are muffled. My trembling comes to an end. Nothing can hold me back. I just want this to be over.
What was I thinking? My competition is ferocious. My chances feel insuperable, but my stubbornness keeps propelling me forward.
It was not so long ago, I was by the lake. My mother was trying to maneuver uncomfortable and sticky blown up floaters over my thin arms. I kept wriggling to stop her from pushing them further. Finally, took my scared hand to lead me to the water. It felt so cold, but so comforting and pleasant at the same time. My arms paddled erratically ad my feet splashed in all direction, but I was not moving. At that moment, I couldn’t fathom how my dog Dixie was able to paddle away with such ease, while I was struggling with every stroke to keep my head above water. It was only later I understood that the white, red and blue floaters around each arm rescued me from dropping to the sandy ground.
Now, I know all eyes are looking my way. My heart is pounding through my chest as though trying to escape. I go faster and faster. I hear the piercing voices again, but I do not pay attention to them. I am single-minded and can only focus on the laps that stretch in front of me. Empty space is invading my mind. I start to lose consciousness of my movements. Legs and arms are both hitting the water rhythmically.
In my peripheral vision, I have a vague image of bodies close to me. The red, blue and white cables separating me from my competitors, remind me of the day at the lake, the beginning of all this. I look down; black lines guide my way. I know from past experience that the adrenaline rush invades my soul as my speed increases.
My chances are minimal, but the thrill of the race is intoxicating. I can’t hold myself back. As my rhythmic movements accelerate, the water cools my body. The reflected light gives the water a lovely shimmering glow. Not long now, not far to go. I’m not aware of competitors, but wonder why I am suddenly alone. The end is approaching quicker and quicker. Although I want to finish this, I want the exhilaration to continue to absorb me because nothing can compare.
And there, my hand touches the screen. It is over. I take deep breaths. The sound of applause and cheering is amplified. My fingers are all wrinkled up. I pull off my cap and my goggles in excitement. It’s a relief to let my hair free, getting rid of the tightness. Finally, I look and stare in amazement at the screen; I have done it. No words can express my feelings, but now I understand that great achievements start from small beginning. Out of all the competitors in my league, 1st place is mine. My eyes can’t believe it, my heart even less so. I’m shaking and shivering and goose bumps cover my body. Nothing else matters now. I did it.


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